There’s a certain feeling you get after finding out your favorite book is coming to the big screen. And, although you’re stoked to watch, an anxious thought crosses your mind: “What if it ends up being … utter garbage?”
Yup, we’ve all been there. Particularly, when indulging into the genre of young adult fiction — YA for short — which seemingly produces page-to-screen remakes like clockwork. The accumulation of disappointments — from wrongful casting to the forgoing of essential plot details — is enough to ruin even our most prized literary possessions.
We have been conditioned to believe the book is almost always better than the film, but here are four examples where Hollywood did justice to YA. Whether you treat yourself to the book, show, or both — these selections are guaranteed to fulfill expectations.
Looking for Alaska
By John Green (2019)
Looking for Alaska is a cult-favorite YA novel that sold its movie rights to Paramount back in 2005; however, the years passed, and the book never bloomed into full visual fabrication.”Apparently it’s been stuck in the pre-production phase for years now and no one can get their acts together to actually make the film,” commented one angry BuzzFeed writer in a 2017 article. Even Green, the author, expressed his own dismay via Twitter after 10+ years of zero progress. But alas, Hulu intervened in 2018 and agreed to produce an exclusive 8-episode mini series! The final product surely doesn’t disappoint. It captures beloved characters — the wimpy Miles “Pudge” Halter (Charlie Plummer) and the badass Alaska Young (Kristine Froseth). In essence, the narrative wraps them into a truly faithful coming-of-age story that will leave viewers reminiscing the days of flipping thru the book’s pages, wholly enthralled by its suspense.
The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas (2018)
Heralded as “a reflection of America” by The California Aggie, “The Hate U Give” is a masterfully compelling and honest portrait of society’s intersections with culture and racism. The story is told from the point-of-view of a 16-year-old black girl: Starr Carter. After the fatal shooting of her innocent childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer, Starr is launched into a national spotlight that paves the way for activism against black injustice and brutality. It is a mature and sometimes chilling story of a changemaker’s resilience and womanhood. Thomas’s unputdownable debut skyrocketed to the crown of YA hierarchy, and a major motion picture was underway in no time. Amandla Stenberg’s performance as Starr is worthy of every plaudit; it was a huge rebound for the young actress after starring in the mediocre YA flop “Everything, Everything.”
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) and P.S. I Still Love You (2020)
By Jenny Han
Lara Jean, the films’ protagonist, is everyone’s favorite quintessential hopeless romantic: an ordinary girl who writes love letters to her crushes — five of them to be exact. Enter Peter Kavinsky, the popular jock with a heart of pure gold. In a super successful YA rom-com adaptation, these unlikely high school lovebirds made the whole world fall in [teen] love again. Lana Condor’s performance rose her to stardom as America’s newest sweetheart, while Noah Centineo blew up as the Internet’s boyfriend, and blessed us with a boatload of memes. The costars’ unmistakable chemistry will have you aboard the ship in no time and anxiously awaiting the premiere of Netflix’s third installment, “Always and Forever, Lara Jean.” What’s more, fans can now swoon over the newly-released H&M clothing line inspired by our adorable heroine.
All the Bright Places
By Jennifer Niven (2020)
Finally, a YA/Netflix concept that hits all the (b)right notes. It’s a glowing cinematic re-telling of “the story of a boy called Finch and a girl named Violet” that shines a light of sensitivity on heavy topics such as grief, mental illness and teen suicide — a major mark previously missed in Netflix’s uber-controversial 2017 original, “13 Reasons Why.” What distinguishes AtBP from ordinary, depressing “sick lit” reads (a literary subgenre manifested in “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Five Feet Apart” and the like) is how the author establishes a healthier balance between the enchanting moments of Violet and Finch’s relationship and the dark trauma underlying their crossed paths. With an ending that’s altogether expected, heart-wrenching and poignant, the story’s speaks volumes. Struggling teens seeking support are emphatically invited to visit the movie’s interactive website.
One of Us Is Lying
By Karen M. McManus
Touted as a contemporary spin on “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty Little Liars,” the earth-shattering 2017 debut from YA novelist McManus was always destined to hit the big screen. Sure enough, it was optioned last fall as a drama pilot by Peacock, the latest streaming service from NBCUniversal. While a release date is yet to be announced, the twisted thriller’s launch is currently in the works under actress-turned-director, Jennifer Morrison. Until then, dive into the bestseller’s superb sequel, “One of Us Is Next:” Simon and his notorious gossip app are long gone, but there’s a new whodunnit mystery to unravel at Bayview High — this time in the form of a dangerous truth or dare texting battle, and Maeve, Bronwyn’s younger sister, takes center stage.
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